Stupid stuff we need to stop saying to Dads.

FEBRUARY 4, 2016

Recently I got chatting with a nice lady in the queue at the supermarket.

(Because when the highlight of your Friday evening is browsing a frozen food aisle, you’ll talk to everyone.)

As I loaded a giant bag of nappies onto the checkout conveyor, Nice Lady smiled at me.

“Kids?” she asked with a grin.

“Yeah, a little boy.” I replied.

“So, who’s got him now?” she asked.

“Um, he’s at home with his Dad.”

Her grin widened.

“Ohhhh,” she said, giving me the look.

It goes like this:


I’ve tried to learn how to do the look.

But this is what ends up happening:


Then she dropped the whammy:

“Let’s hope everything is under control when you get home!”

Chortle chortle. Wink wink.

It took all my strength not to donk her over the head with a zucchini.

Instead, I nodded and smiled breezily through gritted teeth.

Then and there, it dawned on me.

We need to stop talking about Dads like they’re an inept accessory to parenting.

I hear this stuff all the time, and my husband hears it too.

Like the time we were at the park and our son was dressed in mismatched shoes and a crappy old t-shirt covered in vegemite stains.

Looks like Daddy dressed you today!” came a well-meaning comment.

Newsflash: I dressed him. And I did a terrible job, which is the norm. When his Dad dresses him, he looks like a Bonds catalogue kid.

Is Daddy on babysitting duty today?

Nope, he’s not a baby sitter.

He’s a parent. Y’know, like a Mum, except with a penis.

He’s outside playing cricket in the backyard, kissing a skinned knee, smearing sunscreen onto a tiny nose and handling another epic “I don’t want sunscreen” meltdown like a boss.

He’s sitting on the toilet with a small person staring at him through a crack in the door.

He’s making forts and train stations and race tracks.

Later on he’ll be scraping solidified cheese off the floor, hanging tiny shirts on the washing line, Febrezing the wee-scent out of the sofa cushions and scooping poo out of the bathtub.

He will spot a red rash behind our son’s ears and google “possibility of death with red rash behind ears” and quietly convince himself it’s a flesh eating virus.

He will worry and think about our son- all the time.

He will get everything wrong, then right, then wrong, then right.

He will argue with his partner (me) about whose turn it was to buy the pull-ups and we will both wonder why we ever got into this game – and then something great will happen.


Hearts will fill up again.

He’ll read the same Peter Rabbit story for the sixth time in a row (without flinching) and will wrangle four squirming, kicking limbs into clean pyjamas.

He will sit beside his bed, saying the two words he knows will help our son to drift away.

Daddy’s here.”

He will go downstairs to tidy up the toys, and he will flop on the sofa with a beer, and he will get up two minutes later when our son wakes and cries.

And he will do it again, and again, until he gives up on the beer altogether.

He will check the locks on the doors and creep into his bedroom to whisper a last goodnight, safe in the knowledge he’s probably going to get 4 hours sleep tonight.

On his way out, he will look into the cot and think to himself:

Bloody hell, he’s beautiful.

Alongside all of this, there’s me.  Doing exactly the same kind of stuff, every day.

Sure, there are plenty of deadbeat Dads in the world. Believe me, I know this for certain. Equally, there are plenty of deadbeat Mums.

But the good Dads need to be part of our language of parenting.

We only have to look at the smiling faces of mothers with children in magazines, movies, advertising and online to see where the media thinks the parenting-pendulum swings.

And yep.

Listen to the language we use about parents to know what we’re supposed to think the score is.

Watch how much pressure we put on Mums to be the natural-born carers. The ones with the instincts. The ones who know how to do it properly.

Hell, even the bottle of stuff we wash our son with says Mums prefer.”

What about the Dads?

It’s easy to see why it’s often called ‘Daddy Day Care’.

It’s easy to see why Dads rarely get a mention at our ante-natal classes.

It’s easy to see why the good Dads – loving, caring, lion-hearted, capable, loyal, instinctive Dads – are portrayed as goofy mistake-makers.

It’s easy to see why there’s a popular Instagram hashtag called #dumbstuffdadsdo; but nothing for Mums. Because we never do dumb stuff, do we? (cough)

It’s easy to see why people fawn all over a bloke with a baby in a sling, like he’s some sort of rare messiah.

It’s easy to see why most Dads get about 5 days paternity leave (if any) when a child is born.

It’s easy to understand why we never hear the term “working father“.

And it’s easy to see why Facebook started a viral trend this week, asking women around the world to share “five reasons why I’m happy to be a mother.”  #silentvom

Nothing for the awesome Dads.


Because they’re probably all scratching their balls and watching the football, right?


They’re scratching their balls and watching the Teletubbies.

All hail.

Our son and his Dad.


Source: Dumb-ass stuff we need to stop saying to Dads.

Posted in Children, Education, Marriage, Parenting, Sex, Social Commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment



Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

Letter to the Editor: Westport News February 3, 2016

Dear Sir/Madam,

The stated focus of Police Superintendent Karyn Malthus’ report on restructuring the West Coast police force is to “improve service delivery to our communities, with a strong emphasis on prevention before response.”

It is difficult to then understand how the stated objective of the proposal can achieve this by “disestablishing” the Karamea police station.

Surely the effective closure of a police station in perhaps the most remote town on Mainland New Zealand can only lead to a response-based service, which contravenes the proposal’s very purpose.

The report correctly states that Karamea is 66.9 kilometres from the next closest police station in Granity. It, however, neglects to mention that the windy mountain road traverses the Karamea Bluffs and the drive time from Granity to Karamea is over one hour. In turn, Granity is a 20-minute drive from Westport, so surely it would make more sense to close the Granity police station given its proximity to other police resources.

In the event of a natural disaster that makes the road impassable, the Karamea community and visiting tourists would be completely isolated from much needed police assistance.

Karamea is the Western gateway to the Kahurangi National Park, which services the Heaphy Track, Oparara Basin and other attractions. The number of people participating in activities provided by these facilities and visitors to the Karamea region is increasing in line with community, regional and national efforts to boost tourism. This would seem to coincide with an increased need for associated police services and a determination of future police requirements based on a purely economic analysis of past crime figures ignores this fact and is rather shortsighted.

The Karamea region has a small largely law-abiding population, which is perhaps due to permanent police presence in the region. The current police officer, Senior Constable Alan Kees, has been servicing the region for the past 22 years and the fact that we enjoy a relatively crime free existence is largely due to the efficacy of his police work and that he is very familiar with the region and the people living here.

Inspector Jeff Penno, who resides in Waikato, compiled the proposal and it would appear that he is not savvy with the logistics and needs of the Karamea community. Perhaps he and Tasman-based Superintendent Malthus could actually visit Karamea and get a first-hand understanding of the situation rather than attempting to remotely rule the region, which is precisely what is suggested by the proposal to end full time police presence at the Karamea station.

A police presence is also helpful to business owners like myself who cater to visitors to the region and the loss of an officer stationed here would be detrimental to the smooth operation of our respective ventures and the feeling of comfort and security of our guests.

I invite both Superintendent Malthus and Inspector Penno to come over to Karamea and attend a community meeting to hear directly from the people affected by their proposal and give us an opportunity to present our thoughts and perhaps suggest better solutions and alternatives to what is considered by most people in this community to be a very bad idea.

The proposal to close the Karamea police station is also not compatible with the N.Z. Police Code, which is, “Helping us live our values every day so we earn the trust and confidence of everyone in New Zealand.”


Police propose West Coast ‘tactical squad’



Tasman police district commander Karyn Malthus:

The West Coast’s police boss has proposed setting up a new “tactical squad” to target gangs and drugs.

She has also proposed axing Karamea’s only police officer.

The proposal document comes after a review of West Coast Police services, announced by Tasman District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus in August.

It was released for consultation with police and the public on Tuesday.

The Coast has about 65 sworn police staff.

Malthus said the proposed changes would ensure police staff were appropriately distributed and deployed across the West Coast area to meet communities’ needs.

The restructure would not reduce staff numbers on the Coast, but would disestablish eight positions and create eight new roles.

The proposed tactical squad would include a sergeant, a detective and one other. It would report to an investigations manager in Greymouth.

The sole-charge officer at Karamea would be disestablished, although a patrol base would remain and a police presence would be “managed seasonally”.

The proposals include disestablishing the three community constables and three youth aid officers at Westport, Hokitika and Greymouth.

They would be replaced by two area prevention constables, an area prevention sergeant and an area youth aid position, all based in Greymouth.  An additional investigator covering serious crime would be established at Westport.

The consultation document said the three youth aid officers were dealing with declining case loads.

It said the sole charge officer in Karamea, which had a population of about 750, dealt with on average 27 offences per year, and for seven months had recorded no priority one calls.

“It was considered that the Granity sole charge position along with additional support from Westport based staff when required could adequately attend to demand and prevention activities in the community,” it said.

However, Karamea resident Ray Douglas said losing the town’s police officer would be a “travesty”.

“We have the second largest national park in the country and we are one of the most isolated communities in the country. We have 10,000 people walking the Heaphy Track a year and we have a lot of incidents that need an officer on the ground,” he said.

Senior Constable Alan Kees had served the community for many years.

“He was born and bred in Karamea and his wife and children are part of the community. He knows the area and the people and does his job very well. If we lose him, cohesion between the police and the community will be affected,” he said.

He said it would make more sense for the Granity sole-charge officer to go, as Granity was only 20 minutes from Westport whereas Karamea was an hour and a half from Westport.

A decision on the sole-charge Ross officer was “deferred” until a stand alone review with the Ross community took place in February.

“While the Governance Group consider that there is clear evidence to indicate that the Ross position should be disestablished…the Governance Group acknowledge that there is an opportunity to engage and consult in more depth with the Ross and wider communities on this subject,” it said.

It said the Ross sole-charge officer dealt with on average 30 offences a year.

The Tasman District had recorded the highest drug supply, cannabis and drug use offences per 10,000 population in the country last year.

Drug supply was almost four times the national average and methamphetamine offending was also well above the national average with detected offences 252 per cent higher than this time last year. Nationally, there had been a 12 per cent increase.

The proposal document said policing organised crime was “currently limited by the case loads of CIB investigators and the lack of expertise held by frontline staff”.

Malthus said the desire to see a tactical squad was widely raised by staff during the review last year.

“The proposals have been driven by the thoughts and ideas of all West Coast Police staff and I believe they will improve the effectiveness of local policing now and looking forward to 2020,” she said.

Police will start consulting staff, the community and stakeholders. Feedback should be sent to by February 19.  A final decision is expected by March 31.

Waikato district deployment manager Inspector Jeff Penno conducted the review.

 – Stuff

Posted in Bureaucracy, Economics, Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park, Karamea, New Zealand, New Zealand Police, Oparara, Oparara Basin, Paul Murray, Politics, Power, Social Commentary, South Island, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Busy Day for the DON


Republican presidential candidate Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in Manchester

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX1GZCO


Republican Presidential candidate Trump reacts as he speaks at the 2015 FreedomFest in Las Vegas

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts as he speaks at the 2015 FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Nevada July 11, 2015. REUTERS/L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun – RTX1K10O




Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrives on the red carpet for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON

Posted in Art, Donald Trump, Funny, Hilarious, Humor, Humour, New York, Politics, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KEEP Keeps on Keeping On


Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project – KEEP

Kaiawhina o te Wahapuu Karamea

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray for KEEP

A productive morning by local volunteers working on the Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project (KEEP) on December 8, 2015 resulted in the erection of a new information board at the northern end of the walkway and a picnic table at the Ray Street entrance.

The new information board has historical information about the Karamea River Harbour from 1894 to the 1930s, including flood protection work carried out after the 1929 Murchison Earthquake and also about the nearby pippi shell midden created by transient Maori who camped at the site over many generations as they travelled down the West Coast to trade with other Maori communities further south.

Financial assistance for this work was gratefully received from the Department of Conservation (DOC), Holcim, the Karamea Historical Society and the Buller District Council.

KEEP was founded in 2006 and is a joint project between the community volunteer group and DOC  to “preserve, enhance and promote the historic and natural values of the Karamea Estuary and surrounds.” Project achievements to date include improved access to the estuary by the construction of a walkway around the Karamea Estuary, significant tree planting and revegetation work along the pathways, the erection of information boards detailing the Maori, European and Ecological history of the region, the placement of historically significant and interesting artefacts along the pathway and the construction of benches and picnic tables.

Small information plates have also been placed near trees and shrubs planted along the path detailing their botanical and common names, so the walk is now not only pleasurable, but also educational as you can brush up on your local history, ancient Roman language and botany along the way.

Ongoing work by the KEEP group includes pest control, tree planting, weed management, track maintenance and ecological monitoring.

For all the latest news and information about KEEP activities, please join us on FaceBook:




Posted in Buller District Council, Conservation, Department of Conservation, Environment, Historical, Kahurangi National Park, Karamea, Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project, Mountain Biking, Musicians, New Zealand, Paul Murray, Photography, Travel, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bye Bye Fluffy

Python Devours Children’s Pet Piglet

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray

Sometime in the dark of night on November 11, 2015 a young carpet python slithered silently into the home of Lilly and Fluffy Thompson, wound its muscular body around wee Fluffy, squeezed the life out of him and then swallowed him head first while partner Lilly watched in horror from the corner of the room…expecting a similar fate.


Next morning, Simon Thompson, father of Bennina and Charlie and husband of Martina Reinhardt, discovered the traumatised guinea pig Lilly cowering in fear beside the sated serpent as he quietly digested Fluffy, who was now merely a lump in the 2-metre reptile’s length.

Carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) are non-venemous, nocturnal constrictors and can grow to 4 metres in length. They feed mainly on small mammals, bats, birds and lizards and would have seen Fluffy and Lilly as convenient meals rather than children’s pets. They often inhabit populated areas and serve humans well by eating mice, rats and other vermin. However, they have also occasionally been known to dine on domesticated animals and on March 14, 2014, a 2.5 meter carpet python ate a pet Chihuahua chained to a doghouse in New South Wales, Australia.

Thompson, a park ranger for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service based in Cairns, Australia, wondered how he would present Fluffy’s demise to his children. Being a staunch environmentalist and committed parent, he decided to catch the snake and explain to his family that snakes are animals too and, like all animals, they need to eat…it was just unfortunate that the family pet Fluffy had satisfied that requirement on this occasion. Explaining this to the children and his German-born wife, who is unlikely to have had a similarly distinct fauna experience before moving to Australia, required considerably deft and compassionate kindred diplomacy.

Thompson assembled the family and carefully explained the natural realism of Fluffy’s noble demise and how his life had prolonged that of another.


Park Ranger Simon Thompson with discovered Fluffy inside this Carpet Python…Fluffy can be imagined when viewing the distended portion of the reptile’s midriff. Photo by Martina Reinhardt


Fluffy being digested. Photo by Martina Reinhart

Perhaps realising that its choice of repast was somewhat indelicate, the captured ophidian attempted to escape the possibility of retribution by constricting Thompson’s leg.


But the experience snake handler had a firm grip on the reptile, which was ironically limited in its natural ability to defend itself by constriction due to the children’s pet in its digestive tract.



After explaining how Fluffy met his tragic end, Thompson showed the snake to his children and permitted them to stroke the lump in its midriff to say a final solemn farewell to their beloved Fluffy.


Bennina Thompson (left) strokes the snake lump to farewell her old friend Fluffy. Photo by Martina Reinhart.

Fluffy leaves behind his partner Lilly, who is undergoing therapy and psychiatric counselling and a nearby facility and is reportedly making good progress in transgressing the trauma of graphically witnessing her partner being crushed and swallowed by a constrictor.


Thompson released the culprit back into the bush and has now snake-proofed the children’s guinea pig house and will look for a replacement for Fluffy…after a suitable period of mourning of course.

Posted in Australia, Children, Conservation, Funny, Guinea Pig, Hilarious, Humor, Humour, Nature, Parenting, Parody, Python, Satire, Snake, Tragedy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Art of Social Commentary by Waldemar von Kazak

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Posted in Art, Artist, Parody, Politics, Satire, Social Commentary, Waldemar von Kazak | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rongolians Reunite to Remember Jamie Tillett

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray

A small gathering of friends assembled at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery at the top of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand to remember our friend Jamie Tillett, who died tragically earlier this month in Dunedin.

There was nothing in the media about Jamie’s passing, so this document will hopefully serve as a memorial to him and help to gain the closure those who new him seek and alleviate the confusion we all feel over his demise.

Jamie’s family came out to New Zealand and held a funeral service for their son. Jamie’s father Stephan said his son, “was cremated at a breathtakingly beautiful spot overlooking Tomahawk Bay, Dunedin.” It must have been a very sad, confusing and frustrating time for them. They had planned to visit Karamea and come to Rongo as well, but found the whole experience so terribly difficult that they decided to return to Scotland and spread their son’s ashes there. I hope they can visit someday and see the memorial we have erected for Jamie.

(Photo of completed headstone)

Jamie arrived as a guest and enjoyed staying at Rongo so much, he eventually joined the team and worked as a volunteer at the hostel and on the LivingInPeace Project and helped on the permaculture farm, which he liked very much…especially working with the animals.


Jamie Tillett: 1983 – 2015

He was a gentle soul with a original, but genuinely funny sense of humour. He had a kind word for everyone and made many friends quickly. Some of the people he met at Rongo were able to come back for the informal memorial service we held to remember him.

Pete Dickinson returned from ski fields at Mt Cheesman where he is now working. Pete met Jamie on his travels around New Zealand and they became good mates…they had plans to travel to Thailand together from New Zealand. While they were working at Rongo in June, 2015, they did a radio show together on Karamea Radio 107.5 FM, a community radio station that broadcasts from the hostel.

Pete and Jamie (aka DJs Kaos and Orda) played their favourite tunes, discussed life in Karamea, the LivingInPeace Project and many other topics…Jamie’s unusual sense of humour is recorded here and we played the show and had a good laugh while we sat in his favourite spot “Runga Lodge” at the back of the radio station, while we talked about Jamie and our memories of him. We are making a memorial headstone for Jamie that will rest in place for him in a warm sunny spot where he often enjoyed sitting.

Hear the Show Here:


Pete Dickinson


Front to Back: Adeline, Tristan, Brian, Aymeric, Pete, Paul and Ben with Jamie Tillett at Runga Lodge.

Jamie loved to play the guitar and, while at Rongo, he wrote a song about the place and recorded it with his French friends Adeline Thiery and Aymeric Bizard.

Rongo manager Tristan Lockerbie worked with Jamie a lot while he was in Karamea and they had many good conversations over morning coffee and while working together on Tristan’s many projects.


Tristan Lockerbie remembers Jamie Tillett at Runga Lodge at the back of Rongo Backpackers & Gallery.


(Left to Right) Paul, Brian, Ben, Pete, Aymeric, Tristan, Adeline at Runga Lodge with Jamie Tillett (photograph on cactus)



Benedikt (Ben) Mueller worked with Jamie at the Drifting Sands Backpackers in Hokitika and came to Rongo on his recommendation. Ben was working at Rongo when he heard news of Jamie’s death. He was pleased to be able to talk about Jamie with others who knew him.


Benedikt (Ben) Mueller

LivingInPeace Project General Manager Brian “Big Man” Thomson worked with Jamie everyday for about six weeks.

Big Man

Brian “Big Man” Thomson

Jamie loved pot-luck dinners, so we decided to have a special one in his memory…Pete, Adeline and Aymeric arrived and cooked up a mighty feast…the food was good, the conversation…a little emotional, but we managed to keep positive as the crew reminisced about their absent friend.


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L-R: Ben, Brian. Mitsuyo, Diva and Adeline


L-R: Winston, Sanae and Siggi


Jamie Tillett Memorial Dinner at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery July 29, 2015.

WED_6753 Our thoughts are with Jamie’s parents, his sister Rebecca, other friends and family and all who knew and loved him. While we’ll likely never understand how or why Jamie’s life ended, we’ll always remember how he touched our lives while he lived.

Rest in Peace Jamie. 


Three of Jamie’s original songs:

Back in the Day by Jamie Tillett:  

Conceited and Wise by Jamie Tillett:

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Lord Have Mercy by Jamie Tillett: 

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Jamie by Adeline


Jamie and French friend Aymeric Bizard

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Jamie and French friend Adeline Thiery

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Photographs by Jamie’s many friends in New Zealand. 

Posted in 107.5 FM, Heaphy Track, Jamie Tillett, Kahurangi National Park, Karamea, Karamea Radio, Karamea Radio 107.5 FM, LivinginPeace Project, Music, New Zealand, Obituary, Oparara, Oparara Basin, Paul Murray, Peace, Permaculture, Photography, Radio Karamea, Radio Shows, Rongo, Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, Social Commentary, South Island, Travel, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments